Using GIS to assess the potential for centralised planning of bus networks

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - urban, mode - bus, organisation - regulation, organisation - contracting, planning - route design, planning - service improvement, technology - geographic information systems


Transit network design problem, network planning, tabu search algorithm, geographical information systems


The current regulatory and planning environment means that road-based public transport in UK urban areas (with the exception of London) tends to be planned on a piecemeal basis, and there are often conflicts between the needs and priorities of operators, passengers and planners. In consequence, several local authorities are considering adopting an alternative regulatory environment using quality contracts, with a consequent shift towards centralised service planning. There are though no tools readily available to ensure this centralised service planning will lead to a situation, which provides a better balance between the interests of the different stakeholders. This paper describes the development of a methodology to fill this gap, using Southampton as a case study to explore the corresponding improvement methods, which could be applied based on the alternative regulatory environment. The improvement methods, including both bus route design and frequency setting, are considered in this paper, which demonstrates how this service improvement problem can be solved by making use of an optimisation technique, the tabu search algorithm, developed under the environment of ArcObjects for Java. While the methodology is developed in the UK context, the general principles used could be applied more widely to improve transit network planning.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.